"Electronic nose" sniffs out pathogens

A Riverside, California, company has created an "electronic nose" prototype capable of detecting small quantities of airborne pathogens.

The device springs from the research of Nosang Myung, a professor at the University of California - Riverside's Bourns College of Engineering, HomelandSecurityNewswire.com reports.

Nana Engineered Applications, Inc., an Innovation Economy Corp. company, completed a prototype based on intellectual property licensed from the university. The company said that the device has applications in homeland security, agriculture, industrial sites and the military.

"This is a really important step," Myung said, according to HomelandSecurityNewswire.com. "The prototype clearly shows that our research at the university has applications in industry."

Nano Engineered Applications expects to begin selling the device, which measures approximately four inches by seven inches, within one year. The company hopes to make the device approximately the size of a credit card with a multi-channel sensor capable of detecting up to eight toxins.

The device is centered around Myung's nanosensor array, which he began developing eight years ago. The array utilizes functionalized carbon nanotubes to detect airborne toxins at the parts per billion level.

Nano Engineered Applications hopes to incorporate the unit into three basic platforms - a handheld device, a wearable device and a smart phone, with different platforms used depending on the application, HomelandSecurityNewswire.com reports.